Thursday, February 25, 2010

Interview with author Yvonne Perry




Today, my guest is Yvonne Perry, author, ghostwriter, and editor. Yvonne has agreed to answer a few questions for us.

1. Please tell me how you came to develop your company Writers in the Sky?

I became a writer because I wanted to try something new. I had five years experience as an administrative assistant but I hated the rigid schedule of the corporate world. I wanted to work from home, so I came up with the idea of starting my own business. I started this company in 2003 with a strong belief that I could create the career I wanted by learning as much as I could about the craft and business of writing, focusing on the positive goals I had set, and doing the work necessary to reach these goals.

Although I had a plan with goals that took me about a year to accomplish before launching into entrepreneurship, I morphed into a writer. I started out offering virtual administrative services as well as writing. The next thing I knew, I was doing more writing than admin work, so I began to pursue writing opportunities. I started out solo, but since have put together a team to diversify the types of writing and editing services we offer our clients.

Our team provides writing and editing for books, biographies, marketing copy, Web text, articles, media releases, résumés, and newsletters for individuals and businesses We offer book formatting and blogging services as well as author publicity packages that include book reviews, manuscript evaluations, press kits, and interviews on our weekly podcast. Through our blog, podcast, and newsletter, we are able to help writers who are trying to get started with their career.

2. Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how do you organize your writing time?

I work full-time as a ghostwriter, editor, podcast host, e-zine publisher, book marketer, public speaker, and author. This means I have eight to ten projects going at any given time. Wearing that many hats requires consistent discipline, planning, and organization. I use a daily planner to write down what I need to accomplish each day, and I stick with my plan. I may take several breaks, go for a walk, or even babysit one of my grandsons, but my to-do list keeps me reminded of what I need to accomplish before I call it a day. If I get done by five o’clock, great. If not, I may work until bedtime and then get up and start again the next morning by nine.

Fortunately, I have a contracted team to help me. My virtual administrative assistant, Katie, handles the posts on my blogs, Twitter, and other social marketing sites. She also maintains spreadsheets, conducts Internet research on client projects, codes the newsletter items, and gets our media releases and articles into online outlets. Sarah is in charge of coordinating the podcast schedule, interviewing our guests, and helping authors with book marketing. She and Barbara are also excellent writers and editors, which means I turn a lot of client projects over to them.

Thankfully, my husband is very supportive of my goals and understands that my business requires a lot of my time and attention.

3. You are accomplished in a number of writing areas. Which do you prefer and why?

I enjoy title development, writing, editing, and marketing best. I love helping a writer turn an idea for a book into a tangible, publishable product. That not only fulfills his or her dream, but also gives a sense of accomplishment, credibility, and source of revenue—provided the author can market and sell the book.

Most authors don’t realize that they are responsible for marketing their book—not the publisher. Many haven’t a clue about how to sell a book to a publisher, must less to a reader. I enjoy helping authors learn how to do their own marketing. Without marketing, no product, service, or business is going to succeed. I spend as much as half my day marketing my books, services, and business on the Internet.

I also like getting a rough draft manuscript from a client and helping him or her polish it into a jewel that is ready to be published. Huge book projects are fun to manage and I love teaching. This gives me a chance to do both.

4. How long did it take you to compile the information in Book Marketing in the Digital Age? What type of research did you do for this book?

I didn’t set out to write an e-book—it evolved from a need to share information with my clients. No matter what method an author uses to publish his or her book, there is still the need to market the book. I had written several articles about publishing and marketing and was giving them to my clients on a regular basis—mainly to save time by not having to repeat myself with each new author. Then, the idea occurred to me. Why not repurpose the material into an e-book and sell it? That was the birth of Book Marketing in the Digital Age, Online Promotion Made Easy. Once I decided to put it together in e-book format, it only took a few weeks to get it ready.

5. Since it is an eBook, do you check your links and update the book regularly?

Not as often as I need to, but I just uploaded a new version. If anyone has a copy with links that are not working, I will gladly replace it with the new version at no cost.

6. What tips do you have for new writers?

If you plan to write a book, learn all you can about the book industry and marketing before you try to launch the book for sale.

7. Where can people learn more about you and your work?

We have about fifty pages of information on our Web site: http://writersinthesky.com and I have several blogs:
• http://OnlinePromotionMadeEasy.blogspot.com is the launch point for this e-book, It is regularly updated with marketing tips, articles, and ideas. I distribute information about WITS community networking events on this blog.
• http://yvonneperry.blogspot.com streams our podcast on the craft and business of writing, and interviews with authors, publishers, and book marketers; plus, there is written information pertinent to writers, authors, and readers.
• http://writersinthesky.blogspot.com is where we feature our free monthly e-zine in increments. The electronic subscriber-based e-zine is filled with articles about writing, publishing, and book marketing. It also features poetry, networking opportunities, events, book reviews, and our podcast guests for the month.

Thank you, Yvonne, for taking time from your busy schedule to visit.

You are very welcome, Penny. . I appreciate your wonderful review of my e-book and the opportunity to share with your readers on this blog.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Review Book Marketing in the Digital Age




Review Book Marketing in the Digital Age
By: Yvonne Perry
Published by: Write On! Publishing
ISBN 0-9753870-7-3

This review is based on a review copy provided by Yvonne Perry in exchange for review, all reviews being my own opinion without guarantee or assumption of liking or disliking.

Book Marketing in the Digital Age, Online Promotion Made Easy is a step-by-step guide to help authors market their books online. Ms. Perry includes a table of contents to easily guide you to the section you need. She begins with “What A Web Site Must Have To Compete In Today’s Online Marketplace.” Other sections include “Getting Traffic to Your Blog or Web Site,” “Other Ways to Promote Your Book Online,” “Using Video for Book Promotion,” “Author Interviews,” “Podcasting,” “RSS Feed/Syndication,” and “Summary.”

I found this manual to be very user-friendly and written in terms even the most computer illiterate person will understand. For example, within the past few months, I created my first Web site to promote my own writing. With Yvonne’s book, I learned how to enhance traffic to my web site. Just one simple step gave me increased exposure. She suggests testing your meta tags and descriptions by typing in your domain name at http://www.seocentro.com/tools/search-engines/metatag-analyzer.html When I went to Seocentro and entered my domain name, I found I didn’t have enough meta tags. Using examples provided by Ms. Perry, I determined how to add the proper meta tags to my Web site, thus increasing traffic and expanding my exposure on the Internet.

One component of a Web site that confused me is a media package. Ms. Perry breaks this down and gives concrete examples of what an author should use to create this marketing tool, such as a cover letter, author interviews, book reviews, etc. With the information I gleaned from this section, I will be able to put together a media package to better promote my own work.

Have you considered starting a blog as a way to promote yourself? Yvonne walks you through the steps including what to post, how often to post, and what other things besides your posts to have on your blog.

Also included in the book are numerous links to useful web sites, such as a http://www.pressreleasegrader.com where you can have your press release analyzed. Ms. Perry also suggests other media directories where you can post your press releases for free.

With so many social networking sites now available, Ms. Perry does not neglect to mention the benefits to be had by utilizing these sites to promote your work. She has information on Ning, MySpace, RSS feeds, LinkedIn, Squidoo, and Twitter.

I found Book Marketing in the Digital Age to be a useful tool and one I will keep handy as I further develop my own marketing strategies.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Beth Erickson talks about Queries

Today, I’d like to share an article by Beth Ann Erickson of Writing, Etc., publisher and editor at http://filbertpublishing.com/

Are You Making These Silly Query Mistakes?
Beth Ann Erickson

Sitting on this side of the editorial desk is amazing. I hear stories about how hard it is to get published, all the while reviewing queries that cross my desk.
This unique perspective has vividly illustrated an interesting phenomenon in the publishing world: It's not hard to get published, what's evidently hard is writing something publishers need. Let me explain.
When it comes to queries and proposals, we rarely reject a manuscript due to sloppy writing. Writers tend to be an educated and talented lot. Nine times out of ten the problem lies in one of these areas:
The author hasn't read the submission guidelines.
We publish (maybe) one piece of fiction per year. Yet 99 percent of all queries received are for fiction. We're clear about this in our guidelines, yet the queries flow in. Of the remaining one percent, most queries are not in our genre. We probably receive one appropriate query every six months, if that.
Next problem, getting the name wrong. My name isn't “Bart.” Maury's name isn't “Mary.” Our name isn't “editor” either. Personalize the query for a better chance of getting it read.
Finally, we don't publish books over 100k words. We say this in the guidelines. Yet, we receive queries for (up to) 250k words. That's simply too long. It makes for a big, expensive book that we'll have trouble selling.
Simple fix? Read the submission guidelines carefully before submitting. Your competition isn't doing this so you've got an automatic leg up.
No SASE
Snail mailing a query without a SASE will usually not receive a response.
When I've got my marketing hat on, I know it's imperative to make it effortless for a prospective customer to respond to my offer. I slip in a SASE. I make the order form easy to navigate. I do everything I can to make the process simple because even one extra step can depress response by a LOT.
Not including a SASE is a big mistake. Some writers will include an e-mail address, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a response. That would require effort on the part of the publisher. I'm not saying we're a lazy bunch, but I can say we're busy and sending rejections is not fun. Any “not fun” activity gets put off until... well... until we've got a spare minute to craft a response, correctly type in the e-mail address, and hit “send.” And that spare minute can be a long time in coming.
Also, sending queries via e-mail can be tricky as well. More than once, I've received a frustrated e-mail from an author asking why I didn't respond to their query. Sometimes I didn't realize they sent a query.
Spam filters can catch your e-mail. Sometimes an overzealous “deleting” session can toss it in the “trash” unread. Who knows?
Follow up your queries with a polite e-mail or send it snail mail and include a SASE.
Not researching your target publisher
Know your reader. It's every writer's mantra. If you can touch your reader, you'll sell your work.
The same goes for the query process.
Capture the voice of your intended audience... the publisher. Read what they've published. Find out what they're looking for and give it to them. Ask yourself, “Who are their readers?” “How can I serve them?” “What can I do to make their readers' lives better, easier, more fun?”
Once you've answered these questions, you can better write a query that will literally knock off their socks. :)
Demonstrating no marketing knowledge
Most queries focus on the author. “I'm the author of...” “I've written...” “My education includes...”
Sure, this is important information, but there's a better way to frame it.
Whenever you write something... anything... always write directly to your reader. This creates an interesting situation for you as a writer. Your article, book, whatever you're pitching should speak directly to your reader while your query should speak directly to the potential publisher about their readers.
Sure, you may hold an important degree in a particular subject, but why should the reader care? What's in it for them?
If you concentrate your queries on answering the all-important “what's in it for me” question that inevitably dominates all reader's minds, you've just increased your chances of making the sale.
When you concentrate on your reader, compellingly answer “what's in it for me,” you're demonstrating solid marketing knowledge. Your potential publisher will appreciate your marketing savvy.
Your book doesn't have a large potential readership
Publishing is all about readership, not authors. If your project has a limited readership, your work likely won't get published.
Now, don't get the terms “limited readership” confused with “niche.”
A niche consists of a small, targeted subjects, a sliver of overall readership. Dominating a niche is a good thing. Even becoming a leader in a sub-niche is good. Once you've mastered a niche, you've got it made.
“Limited readership” on the other hand, is selecting a readership so small that you can't drum enough readers to support your writing habit.
For example, it's been my experience that it's really tough for a poet to make a living as a writer, not because poetry isn't cool, it's an art form I truly admire, there simply aren't enough readers willing to shell out the dough to purchase poetry. Fiction runs a close second.
The late Gary Halbert said that to become a success in your market, “find a hungry mob, then build a hamburger stand in their path.”
I agree. Find a niche, become the resident expert, master rudimentary marketing techniques, carefully read the writer's guidelines, and most of all... have fun.
And that's when things get really interesting. :)
~~~
Beth Ann Erickson is the “Queen Bee” of Filbert Publishing. She’s also the author of numerous titles as well as the Creative Mindset Newsletter. Pick up the first seven copies today here. She’s also a busy copywriter, speaker, and publisher of Writing Etc., the free e-mag for writers.
~~~
Read more from Beth Ann Erickson at http://filbertpublishing.com/

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dawn Copeman, Editor of Writing World

Today, I would like to share a wonderful editorial by Dawn Copeman. Dawn is the editor of the informative, free newsletter published by Writing World (http://www.writing-world.com) I hope you are as inspired by Dawn's words as I was.

Feeling Guilty and Inspired
---------------------------

I watched the Richard Dimbleby Lecture on television recently. This
is an annual lecture given by a prominent politician or business
figure. It is a lecture. No fancy graphics, no multi-media
effects; just a man or woman, a lectern, a small audience and the
camera.

This year the lecture was given by Sir Terry Pratchett, the first
novelist ever to have been given the honour of presenting the
lecture; except it wasn't. Terry Pratchett sat on the stage to the
right of the lectern but his actual speech was delivered by the
actor Tony Robinson.

The reason for this was that due to Alzheimer's disease, Pratchett
can no longer read. He cannot discern letters at all. It seems
that it was frequent mistakes at the keyboard that first led him to
discover that he had Alzheimer's.

So an author can no longer read or discern letters, but has this
stopped him from doing what he wants? No. He has 'written' two
books since his diagnosis as well as this hour-long lecture and
countless articles and speeches. Having found that he couldn't
physically write anymore, he didn't give up, as many of us would
have done. No, he just found a way around the problem to allow him
to continue to do what he loves to do: to write.

He now writes all his books, articles and speeches using voice
recognition software. He has found a way around what would be to
most of us an insurmountable problem. He didn't allow his
inability to read or write letters get in the way of his writing.

He had a wonderful excuse not to write, but he loves his writing so
much that he just couldn't give in. He worked around it and
carries on writing to this day.

His lecture inspired me but it also made me feel profoundly guilty.
How many petty little things do I allow to get in the way of my
writing? "Oh, I only have twenty minutes free, that's not enough
time, I might as well do something else."

How many times have I said, "I'm too tired right now, I won't be
able to think clearly, I'll leave it to tomorrow"?

The next time I decide that it is too impractical to write or I'm
too tired or ill to write, I am going to think of Terry Pratchett
and remind myself that these are just excuses; a real writer writes
no matter what.

-- Dawn Copeman, Newsletter Editor

Dawn, thank you for allowing me to share these words.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Karina Fabian's Marketing Newsletter

Karina Fabian writes a weekly newsletter called the 30-Minute Marketer, with four tasks each week. Each task takes around 30 minutes to do. Some are simple; some are projects she's broken down into steps. Even if you do only task each week, you'll make progress toward your marketing goals.

Karina posted a sample newsletter on her website at http://karinafabian.com/index.php?name=Content&pid=31. I hope you'll check it out, and pass it on to any authors you know who might be looking for a little guidance in their marketing.

Here's an idea of what she's including:

Each week, she will present you with four tasks. You do not have to do all four each time. Do what you can when you can. Steady progress is the key.

Task 1: Regular marketing task. These are the bread-and-butter tasks of good marketing, and will be repeated every month or so. Repetition sells!

Task 2: Follow-up task. If you did Task One the week before, take time to do task Two. Follow-ups get results!

Task 3: Marketing Project. Sometimes, there are some great marketing ideas that simply won't fit into half an hour a week. She will break these down into smaller steps. So what if it takes four or more weeks? It's better than having done nothing! She may also post single-step projects that may take you more time.

Task 4: New Idea. These are marketing ideas that she's picked up over the years or has seen on a newsletter or group she belongs to. Some will be tried-and-true; some will be new and experimental.

She's also going to add some news of conferences, her classes, or marketing opportunities she hears about.

Karina charges $12 a year for 54 issues. That's a lot of information at a nominal cost. If you sign up for the newsletter, please let her know that you heard about it here on my blog at http://www.pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com Either let her know when you register or send her an email. Thanks.

Karina is also offering a 6-week class on building a marketing plan. Marketing Basics runs March 8-April 9. This forum-based, independent study course will work you through the major online and offline marketing methods and show you how to put them into a plan you can include in a book proposal or use for an already-published book. The cost is $30. http://karinafabian.com/index.php?name=Content&pid=24

Friday, February 12, 2010

Knitting and Writing

I've decided that I need to exercise my brain more. The other day, a good friend and I went to Portland and visited a wonderful yarn shop, the Yarn Garden. It is loaded with all kinds of fabulous yarns - everything from alpaca to hemp. I picked up a book with easy knitting instructions, bought a pair of knitting needles and another pattern book. When we got home, my friend gave me a quick lesson. I can do this, I figure. After all, my daughter knows how to knit, several of my friends know how to knit. Surely I can learn this.

Needless to say, when I went back to my little sample a couple of hours later, I had completely forgotten what to do and immediately proceeded to screw it up. I dropped stitches; made stitches too tight; you get the ugly picture.

Perfecting your writing is much like learning to knit. It isn't simply a case of sitting down and pounding on the keyboard. You need to study the craft. Whether you choose to do that by learning from an expert, taking classes, or reading a book, is up to you. No matter what route you choose, you need guidance. You have to learn the technique, just as I need to learn knitting techniques before I can knit a simple square. You must know grammar rules, how to craft a sentence, a paragraph, and a complete article or story.

Don't assume that because you read one book, had five minutes talking to an author, or took one class that you know everything you need to know about writing. It is an ongoing learning process. Look for opportunities in your community or online. I recently signed up for the Catholic Writers Conference, http://www.catholicwritersconference.com/index.php an online gathering with live chats and forums. You don't need to be a Catholic writer to attend this free conference. Granted some of the forums are geared toward writing as a Catholic, but many are not. The deadline for registering for this conference is February 15th. Take a moment to check it out. Another fabulous online conference is one I've written about before the Muse Online Conference, http://www.themuseonlinewritersconference.com/ You have until August 15 to register for this one.

Then, much like my decision to learn to knit, you will have to practice. Don't wait a week or a month to try to craft that first article or story. Once you've learned a new or better method, put it to work for you. Before I can become a knitter, I will need to look at my book again. I will probably need to ask my friend for more pointers, and I will need to practice, practice, practice.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference





Today, I have a guest, Terry Kate. Terry would like to let you all know about an informative online conference she's put together for book bloggers and publishers, as well as writers.

Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference - by Terry Kate
March 19-20 - Special Author Day the 21st

Since starting my site Romance in the Backseat I have faced a number of hurdles that closely resembled mountains. I learned and the more I learned, as often happens, I realized the more there was to know. Publishing is a complex business and bloggers, reviewers, and sites like my own are beginning to play a role in that industry. Authors are the face of publishing, as are their books, but blogs are a great resource to get information out to readers.

Here is the problem that slowly built the more insight I got from talking to publishers, authors and bloggers - There are only so many readers online and they can be hard to find. How do you know you are reaching them, and if we are how can we do more? So I decided to take on the huge undertaking of organizing a conference that would allow those of us looking to share books, and promote them online to compare notes and get on the same page.

There is a reason for the World Business Forum, the World Social Forum, and other meetings where groups are working in the same area, with the same goals and can benefit from greater understanding. I hate to say it since it is so cliche, but knowledge is power and the publishing industry and book sales need some power behind them right now. So here is the other details and specifics.

Information - http://www.romanceinthebackseat.com/bbpcon.html
Attending Simon and Schuster, Dorchester, Liquid Silver Books, Lyrical Press, The Wild Rose Press, Eternal Press, Midnight Showcase Fiction, and more. There are industry professionals like literary agent Lori Perkins, Tiffany James the director of the awesomely exciting RomCon Convention

Thank you and I look forward to answering any questions. - Terry Kate


FAQ

What inspired the Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference?

Working online. I got tired of being frustrated and bashing my head against the wall. Being clueless is not as fun as the movie would lead you to believe. There are so many great blogs and talented bloggers and reviewers out there talking about books that I desperately wanted to get everyone together to learn from them.

When I talked to the publishers and house publicists and learned they felt the same way I decided to take control of what I could control, which is learning more and sharing what I have learned with others. A conference seemed the perfect place to do that. And since we are all online folks hosting the conference online just made sense.

What are the benefits of an Online Conference?

There are three main ones. First, I have been able to get the most amazing panelists since they do not need to travel. The Conference is set up that you can listen to panels live or at a more convenient time. I think the addition of audio panels beyond the forum discussion will make the Conference closer to the experience of a live event.

Second comes the information that will be permanently profiled on attendees in the Ning, where the written end of the Conference will take place. Publishers will have access to information about bloggers, bloggers will have the opportunity to meet with publishers that might be new to them, and the authors who come in Sunday will be able to access this information as well. Right now it is very difficult to find bloggers and reviewers, harder still to discover those that may be a great match for what you publish or write. This conference will build a data base by the bloggers attendance.

Number three is cost. Physical Events have travel expenses, often hotel costs, meals, and the price of registration. All together they can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. $20 for 2-3 days of expert information, networking, and having your profile seen by all other visitors. I may be biased but I think it is a bargain, what with all the giveaways and prizes. Grand Prize is an E-Reader.

Who will be there?

We have got an amazing list of publishers - Simon and Schuster, Dorchester, Liquid Silver Books, Lyrical Press, The Wild Rose Press, Eternal Press, Midnight Showcase Fiction, and more. There are industry professionals like literary agent Lori Perkins, Tiffany James the director of the awesomely exciting RomCon Convention, and a few more I can not name yet but I can say it will be an honor to have them there.

What do you hope attendees will walk away with?

I hope everyone leaves motivated to spread the word about books and bring more readers online. They will leave with a better understanding of how the industry works, and where we can all improve our personal sphere online. Last but not least a technical understanding. Without knowing things like site stats, basic design information, and a few other tricks of the trade, it is hard to know whether you are being effective online.

And authors, what will be directed towards them?

Authors are perhaps the most important factor and have the greatest opportunity to reach out to readers. The panels from Friday and Saturday will be available to them, and be an amazing tool in helping them get insight into what publishers and bloggers are doing online to promote books. If we are not organized we can not help authors. That is the whole purpose of the Conference to be better at what we do. After the issues have been laid out the Conference open to authors so they can have access to the Blog and Review site profiles and find bloggers and reviewers that are a good match for them. It may not be the biggest blog on the block that helps you sell books, it is just meeting others who share the same interests and have readers looking for what you write. There will be panels for authors Sunday as well.

All the info and registration can be found on my site here - http://www.romanceinthebackseat.com/bbpcon.html
And feel free to email me questions or suggestions,
Thank you to Penny for having me!
Terry Kate
Romance in the Backseat
http://www.romanceinthebackseat.com

Thanks for giving us the details of this interesting conference, Terry

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Interview with author Alex Marshall

Today, my guest is author Alex Marshall. Mr. Marshall has agreed to answer some questions about his work.

1. How long have you been writing and what prompted you to become a writer?
I started writing stories at school but mostly just copying things that I’d read elsewhere or plagiarizing my favorite films. I only started writing seriously in my late teens. I was bored at work and I had an idea for a novel… it just went from there. My writing began very sporadically with months or more when not much was getting done, but as the book began to develop and I realized that I could finish it – and I realized how important writing was becoming to me – I found more time to dedicate to it. I’ve always loved reading fantasy so it was natural to emulate the authors that I’ve grown up with like Howard and Moorcock and Leiber and Lovecraft and the rest…
2. Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how do you organize your time to be most productive?
I’m part-time. I have to work to pay the bills and I have two young children so I have a lot of trouble finding time. I write when I can, I snatch time here and there…. I try to make the most of the times when I feel inspired and I suppose I’m a bit selfish at those times. I think one has to be.
3. What is your writing process?
Seize the moment - shut everything out - write! Sometimes I put on a CD that matches my mood or the mood of the piece, sometimes that’s too distracting. For me it’s a question of having the time and using it before something else comes along to claim it. I write on my laptop or my PC depending and email stuff back and forth to myself.
4. What is your world-building process?
I ‘research’ thoroughly and make extensive notes. All writers know that just because a story is ‘made up’ it’s not a case of anything goes - there have to be clearly defined parameters or rules, if you prefer. The only way I can get these clear in my head is by writing them down – with maps, illustrations etc. where appropriate. I write out questions that are pertinent to the world or the plot or the characters and make sure that I can answer them satisfactorily. This process also links certain aspects of environment, character, and plot that help build authenticity. I try not to get too bogged down in detail because this can become a barrier to writing the story. So I often switch between ‘writing’ and ‘plotting’ and let the two areas feed into each other.
5. How do you develop your characters?
The plotting process sketches out the basic motivations and some of the character details but then I let them develop as I write. Things occur to me as I go along and the situations that the characters find themselves in and the interactions with other characters bring out more from the protagonists. Often whole sections of dialogue and narrative develop organically in this way. Often these are the best bits as the writing seems to flow more naturally at these times and I let them play out- resisting the temptation to self-edit until the passage has run its course. I think that characters who develop naturally also appear more natural to the reader.
6. What draws you to fantasy and science fiction?
My father read Tolkien aloud to me when I was very young. When I was about nine he gave me a copy of F.Herbert’s Dune to read… You can’t get a better start than that!
7. This is your first published work. What other types of writing do you do?
I have written several short stories for magazines and competitions and I’ve just finished my first novel. All of my work is fantasy fiction of the distant past or distant future. I’m fascinated by worlds and societies far removed from our own. I wonder what these societies might reveal about the big questions that have always puzzled mankind.
8. How did you choose Damnation Books as a publisher for your story?
I found them on Duotrope which is where I’ve been hunting for markets for all of my work. I find their search facility very useful. I visit the individual websites of the publishers to check on their submission requirements. I have to say that Damnation has been fantastic. Kim is clearly very experienced and established in the business and a highly professional operator. They do everything that they tell you they’re going to do.
9. What is your marketing strategy?
Tell as many people as possible about my book! Get reviews and interviews on blogs and fantasy sites and spread the word as much as I can. I’m learning about the marketing side of things as I go along. I wish I had more time to dedicate to it.
10. Where can people learn more about Alex Marshall and your work?
My website is under construction but people can contact me via Damnation Books or email me at ajaymarsh@rocketmail.com. I’m happy to talk about any aspect of fantasy fiction.
11. Any tips for writers hoping to break into the science fiction or fantasy genre?
Read a lot and read the best! Write a lot and hone your skills. Think about what you’re writing and why you’re writing it. Think about what you as an individual - having led the sort of life you have and had the experiences that you’ve along the way - has to say that another writer won’t. I also recommend finding a person (or persons) whose opinion and intellect you respect and asking them to read your work. Listen to what they say and take their comments on board - however hard it is to do! Keep sending your stories out to publishers, magazines etc. Absorb any comments that come back and be prepared to make some changes. Keep sending them out there, never be discouraged by rejection. If the stories are good, sooner or later you will get a bite!


Alex, thanks for sharing your thoughts today. It's been a pleasure having you.